Charity says TV soap has helped raise awareness of HIV

29 July 2014

A North Yorkshire charity has to thank the writers of a top soap opera for creating a story line which has raised awareness of HIV.
As a result of the Emmerdale plot – which saw Val Pollard contract the sexually transmitted disease during a holiday fling – Yorkshire MESMAC, which provides services regularly at The Springboard Homeless Project, St Peter’s Church and the North Yorkshire Youth Service, all in Harrogate – has seen an increase in the number of people utilising its services.

Tommo Snape, who is a Community Development Worker with the charity, which offers a free, fast and confidential HIV testing service across the county, said: The writers of Emmerdale have certainly done us a service by bringing forth this important storyline.

It shows that HIV can happen to anyone at any age and, as a result, we have seen a rise in the number of not only asking to be tested, but just seeking general advice.

Even though it is estimated that around 100,000 (one hundred thousand) people in the UK are infected with the sexually transmitted condition, more than a quarter are unaware they have contracted it.

Tommo added: Sadly HIV infection is on the increase as people wrongly assume it doesn’t affect them.

Over the years the treatment for HIV has improved enormously, and if the infection is caught early enough, then those infected can often expect a life expectancy the same as the general population.

Tests, which are carried out in a relaxing surrounding, simply involve a small sample of blood taken from a finger, with the results available in 20 minutes.

Yorkshire MESMAC’s next Harrogate drop in, with free confidential HIV testing, is being held from noon until 3pm on Saturday, August 30 at Peters Church, Cambridge Road, Harrogate.

Further information about Yorkshire MESMAC is available from its website, found at or by emailing or calling Tommo on 07899016239.

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